In my song Now That You Know, (click here to listen on iTunes) the line at the end of the chorus is “Where do you go once you have released all that was yours, now that you know that way won’t work anymore.” It was a song I wrote for a man I met when I was in Colorado performing at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. It was his story of his life turning upside down. However, the chorus of that song could apply to anyone, and has applied to me on many occasions. The nature of being conscious and living in moment-to-moment awareness will show you all of the things that used to be okay but don’t work anymore. Colluding is one of these things.

It might be tempting to think that I’m telling you that you shouldn’t get triggered. That you should just be able to be all spiritual n’ shit, and keep it all inside. Not at all. Just like any habit, it could take time to shift this pattern. Here are some ways to begin that:

1 – Of course, the first thing is to set the intent.

You don’t have to get all woo-woo and light candles and burn incense. If this idea makes sense to you, make a decision right here in front of your computer. Ask your body to begin to alert you gently when you are losing energy to this behavior. Believe me, it will. It’ll be like Frodo’s sword turning blue neon when the orcs are around. Your body will become sensitive to the presence of collusion and your participation in it.

2 – Notice your behavior.

Just begin watching the little ways you find yourself in collusion. Watch how you let people make you insecure, make you angry, make you wish they liked you more. Watch when you are tempted to trash them. Of course, there will be times where you won’t notice the trashing until after it has happened. That’s okay. Just notice it.

3 – Vigilance

After you notice your behavior, and after you know you want to stop, you’ll have to use lots of energy to stop the behavior. It takes lots of vigilance. It takes self-restraint.

4 – The uncomfortable part.

If you do collude, or if you’re about to collude, sit quietly or write in your journal about it. Let your demons out. Let that part of you have a say. You don’t have to shame yourself, or sit for hours gnashing your teeth at the horror of it all. Just notice your stuff. “I feel envious because I’m not doing as well as she is.” “I feel betrayed and small because he found another partner, and I’m still alone.” Just notice it. Cry if you need to. Feel that uncomfortable feeling. That is the growth.

5 – If you do need to talk to a friend about something getting to you, containerize it.

Open the discussion by creating a container: “I don’t want to stay in this place and I want you to help me see how I’m attracting this, or why this is getting to me.” Or “My intent is to move out of this discomfort, but this person is driving me nuts and bringing up all of my stuff, and I need you to hear me out without agreeing that I’m right.”

I remember calling my friend Kathy from Nashville when someone had triggered me and done something I found appalling. I called her and said, “Okay, I need five minutes to go nuts. Don’t agree with me. But I need to let loose because I’m so angry. We can be healthy after that.” And she laughed. And she listened. And then when I was calm, she offered thoughts to help me move away from the rage inside.

6 – Know yourself.

Know in advance what can send you into unconscious behavior. Is it fatigue, or hunger, or too much coffee? Is it just before you give a big presentation? Is it morning time when you’re starting to write? Once you understand this part of you, be gentle in that space. Be aware of those vulnerable times.

What I learned about myself since that night in Texas is that after performances I’m more vulnerable than at any other time. I can sign autographs and talk to people, but after that, I need to be quiet and peaceful in some way. Otherwise, the inner voices that want to analyze everything about the show will start creeping in silently. If I try to push myself to be social, I’ll get more tired and more vulnerable, and the voices will get louder and more Gollum-like, and that is when I tend to engage in unconscious behavior. Now that I know that, I can be much more aware after shows. I go back to my hotel room and take a shower. Or I read something funny or inspiring.

7 – Remember that putting energy on the thing you don’t want makes that thing stronger.

You do have an option to just get off of it. Get over it. Move on. Not everything requires you to process. What would happen if you just didn’t give any more energy to this person and this situation?

8 – Remember that sometimes there’s not an answer.

Sometimes you just have to be aware and allow the situation to open up slowly. Sometimes all you’ll know is that you are getting completely frustrated by someone, and all of your ugliness is coming out. The release might take time.

9 – Set a different intent.

Say it out loud. Be persistent. Once you see the situation clearly, choose to see this differently. Or just be willing to see this differently. Or pray to see this differently. Sit with your original intent again. Just be sure to do something that puts you back into the forward motion, the bigger place where you ultimately want to be, even if you can’t find your way there now.

The Good Stuff

When you stop allowing this knee-jerk behavior to happen, you have less tolerance for gossip, even Hollywood gossip. You get stronger. You have much more compassion. The ‘being nice’ part of this equation begins to come naturally, as ‘being kind.’ You attract stronger friends. You lose the desire for gossip. You see all of this for what it is: addiction, distraction, and a loss of your own energy. You get clear. And clarity feels great. When your heart starts to open, you require less and less vigilance because you simply won’t like the feeling that creeps inside of you when you’re tempted to collude.

And then there comes a point, according to Marty, that there’s not even the impulse to collude or to join in. It just doesn’t come up anymore. It’s organic. My commitment is to join her in that space.

13 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • jeannie kessel

    hi christine-
    i was just speaking with my partner a day or so ago about how people use and confuse gossip in relationships for intimacy, and well, how that actually perpetuates shallow relationships rather than intimate ones. and here i have stumbled upon your articles about “collusion”–yes, i am a bit of a late-comer to your blogs, hence the 2/11/09 response to the 7/7/06 topic–but am so grateful for the awareness and discernment you have addressed between collusion and gossip, and the importance of contracting oneself out of both. and yes, i agree, collusion does go deeper.
    i have a few ideas regarding three emotional responses that i have or use to justify my defense mechanisms with others whenever i indulge in collusion; they are rage, jealousy, and revenge.

    1- i think rage is a response that i use as a r-eaction to “age”. i don’t want to grow up, or take responsibility for whatever i choose to get in a “rage” about. as if to pretend i do not have control or cannot choose my response to others–like a small child.

    2- jealousy is what i become when i’m feeling lousy about myself. i’ve noticed that whenever i am feeling good about me, my accomplishments, or whatever i am doing, i do not become jealous of others–regardless of their success. i most often become jealous when i am in a lousy mood or have low self esteem issues.

    3- revenge is what i feel when i am of the illusion that the “end” has somehow occurred in a given situation, and that i get to have the last word. what a deception this is—burning bridges are often the poor karmic result of this option which more often hurts me, rather than the person in which i am seeking the revenge. not to mention, as you so well stated, the residual feeling of gloom and doom that lasts so much longer than any supposed “gotcha’s!”

    the above emotions are observable and amendable when i remain conscious. unconsciously they become the “norm” of my daily life.
    jeannie kessel

  • Diane Clancy

    Hi Christine,

    Today I posted about these two posts and put a link to them. Thought you would be interested. Great posts!

    ~ Diane Clancy
    http://www.dianeclancy.com/blog

  • Diane Clancy

    Hi Christine,

    This is even more fantastic than the first part. I have been working on this stuff anyway … but I feel you have given me some concrete tools to make that much better process.

    It is especially hard when someone else starts talking and I don’t know what to do … I tend to feel torn .. so thank you!!

    ~ Diane Clancy
    http://www.dianeclancy.com/blog

  • christine

    Hi Delmar. I like the idea. If I were in such a group, though, the intent would have to be one of moving out beyond the negativity or the processing. Being the emotional type, I don’t want to be in any group where I’m encouraged to remain in my negative translations. I want people to give me alternate ways of looking at things and really believe that I have the capacity to step out and be bigger than my petty habits. (not that I’m suggesting this is easy!)

  • Delmar

    Christine, so what do you think about people having a sort “accountability group” so that sharing anger and fears and triggers is done in a safe enviornment BEFORE an emotional crisis occurs? Don’t let the term ‘group’ be interpreted as impersonal…it can be a mixture of trusted friends and also some who live outside your safe zone. Sort of a “mental hygiene” as opposed to “crisis management”?

    Delmar

  • christine

    Rick…the yammering inside our heads is an ENTIRELY different blog! I’ll let you write that one!

  • Rick

    And then once you learn to stop colluding with others – for the most part, at least; all our self-destructive habits seem to feel the need to resurface in subtler ways after we have learned their obvious tricks – you find out you’re colluding with yourself. That little voice inside that criticizes other people in an interior dialog sneaks in when you least expect it.

  • Susie

    Wow, what a lot to think about!!! I never realized that colluding was such a thorn in my life. I’ve always tried to be the type that was, “gentle and kind while stuck in traffic,” but until now, I wasn’t conscious of my reactions and how they truly effect me.

    Ever since junior high, I decided I didn’t like gossip or trash talking (personally I think it’s too much effort and it appears to lower one’s IQ), but lately I’ve noticed that there is a direct correlation between stress levels and how much I collude. Although this bad habit does SEEM like a simple and quick release, you’re right that it’s not an answer…if anything it just creates more negative energy. So, from now on I’m am consciously going to pay attention to my stress levels and colluding and if I find myself about to talk bad about others I will re-examine why I’m really upset and find a more sustainable solution. Maybe I’ll start a collusion support group too 😉

  • christine

    Thanks Call Cruncher…whatever your name is! And let me know how it’s going. The first time you resist and walk away from an ordinarily tempting situation feels really good…

    And David…yes to all you’ve written here. The Good Samaratin was always my favorite. I remember thinking to myself when I was a kid that everyone in the church seemed to love that story…so why were they all so mean to each other behind their backs?!

    And yes, it IS all about you and your own stuff. Absolutely.

  • David (meer kitty2)

    There are so many ways we are told that what we do to others we really do to ourselves. There is the “Golden Rule” which should be reworded to add “… because you really are doing unto yourself.” There is the story of “The Good Samaratin”. We take these stories as trite, yet their point is that there is no such thing as an “other”. The picture I use to think about this is that we are all cut from the same bolt of spritual cloth. This is also a main point in “What The Bleep…”, that at the Quantum level there is no separation among us.

    When we collude to trash another, we are trashing ourselves. There is no “other”.

    Consider that perhaps the things that get in your face and bug you the most are being shown to you so that you pay attention. These are the things we REALLY need to work on ourselves. And isn’t that what really – at the bottom – bothers us so much about what we see outside? Down deep there is a realization we resist that tells us “this is the next thing you need to work on…”

    By the way… if you do not work on that thing which just popped up, it will keep coming back over and over until you have learned the lesson you need to learn. You can be upset and trash the other person to your best friend, and all that will happen is the same issue will surface again to you in another way. That’s why the really irritating people in your life stay in relationship with you. They will be there until you have learned the lesson they were sent to teach. See the teacher in everyone, and ask yourself, “what’s in this for me to learn?”

    meer

  • Call Cruncher

    Oh, here is part 2. Thank you so much for the tips. I am now excited to start working on the new me!

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